Debt collectors aren’t allowed to shame you into paying them back. So they can’t call your job to tell your boss or other employees how bad you are about paying back your debts. Debt collectors also can’t tell your HR department to garnish your wages (only the courts can do that).
But just because they can’t do any of the above, it doesn’t mean that they can’t have any contact with your employer. The information below can help you understand the kind of contact a debt collector can have with your employer. If you have questions or need help with a collector who crossed the line, call us or complete the form to connect with the right services to fight back.
Is the caller really a collector?
The first distinction that needs to be made is whether your debt is with a formal collections agency or if it’s still with the creditor. Third-party debt collectors are bound by the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), while a creditor is not. So if it’s just a creditor calling about a missed payment, then they aren’t bound by the FDCPA and can use any means to contact you. Collectors have to follow the rules, though.
It’s essential to note that some creditors actually have in-house collection departments. So even if you think you’re talking to the creditor, you may be talking to their collections department. If your debt is more than six months past due, check to be sure since this is usually when debts get written off and sent to a collector.
When you know who your debt is with, your next step is to verify the debt. Depending on the age and status of the account, you may not even be obligated to pay. Ask the collector for written verification of the debt before you proceed. This should come by mail. Also, check your credit report to see if the account is there.
Legal contact with your employer
There can be legal contact between a debt collector and your employer or their HR department. Here’s how and why the collector can legally contact your job:
- They can call to verify your employment with that company.
- They can request your phone numbers and physical address.
That’s it. They can’t tell your employer anything about the collection accounts or the circumstances under which it was incurred. They can’t ask your employer to make you pay or ask for your wages to be garnished. And they can’t talk to other employees to shame you into paying your debt.
Basically, they can take steps to confirm you are who they think they are and that you work for that company, but that’s it. Any other contact violates your rights according to the FDCPA.
Limited contact while you’re at work
So the above describes how your employer can be contacted, but what about you directly? Getting constant calls from a debt collector while you’re at work could get you in trouble with your boss or supervisor simply because you’re taking so many personal calls at work.
But the FDCPA protects you from this, too. If you’re not allowed to receive calls at work, tell your collector that. Note the date and the time and who you talked to when you let them know. If the debt collector continues to call at your job, they’ve violated the law and you can file a complaint.
Who can collectors contact?
The only people a debt collector can usually contact to discuss anything as it relates to your debt is you, your spouse, or an attorney. No bosses, clients, coworkers, friends, distant relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends, fellow parents in the PTA or anyone else. So if a collector is talking to other people about your debts or broadcasting the information around town to embarrass you into paying, you have a case for collector harassment.